The new offering launches tomorrow

T-Mobile continues to wave its "UnCarrier" flag at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with an announcement we've all been hearing about and is now confirmed: the U.S.' No. 4 carrier will pay new customers' early termination fees (ETFs) if they switch to T-Mobile. 

According to a T-Mobile press release, the carrier is giving new customers a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" that pays up to $350 per line in ETFs when switching from Verizon, AT&T or Sprint over to T-Mobile. 

"We're giving families a 'Get Out of Jail Free Card,'" said John Legere, president and chief executive officer of T-Mobile. "Carriers have counted on staggered contract end dates and hefty early termination fees to keep people bound to them forever. But now families can switch to T-Mobile without paying a single red cent to leave them behind."

In order for new customers to have their ETFs paid, they must first trade in their "eligible" phones from their former carrier (T-Mobile hasn't been real clear on which phones are considered eligible, but they'll likely have to be somewhat newer smartphones) and purchase a new phone from T-Mobile. 

Switching to a T-Mobile postpaid Simple Choice Plan and having their phone number transferred to the new T-Mobile device means the new customers can receive a credit for their phone trade-in of up to $300 based on the value of their old model. 

From there, the customer just has to mail their final bill from their old carrier to T-Mobile (or upload it at and T-Mobile will pay up to $350 in ETFs per line. 

John Legere [SOURCE: The New York Times]

There is a catch, though, other than wondering which phones are considered "eligible." There is a five line limit for those switching over that want their ETFs taken care of. 

According to T-Mobile, the combined value for each new customer switching over could be as much as $650 (depending on which device is traded in and how much the ETF cost is, of course). The new offering launches tomorrow and looks like it'll be a permanent thing instead of a limited time offer. 

T-Mobile's UnCarrier strategy has certainly shaken up the wireless industry. Last year, it eliminated contracts for reduced cell phone plans in March and introduced an early phone upgrade program in July. Then, in October, it started offering a free unlimited international text and data plan.

It looks like these UnCarrier offerings are working out in T-Mobile's favor, since the carrier announced its best quarter in eight years today. According to T-Mobile, Q4 2013 saw the addition of 1.645 million new T-Mobile customers, bringing its total for 2013 to 4.4 million new customers. This is huge for T-Mobile, considering it lost 32,000 customers in the same quarter one year earlier.

Postpaid, in particular, experienced a dramatic shift for the quarter with 869,000 new customers compared to losing 515,000 for the same quarter in 2012.

"Our Un-carrier moves have clearly upended this industry," said Legere. "Over the past 12 months, 4.4 million customers have come to T-Mobile in response to greater flexibility and choice.  We have clearly struck a chord with customers and will continue to look for ways to expand on that in 2014."  

Full fourth quarter results are expected to be released on February 25.

With results like these, other U.S. carriers are trying to keep up. For instance, Sprint announced its new "Framily Plan" today, which is a new friends and family plan that allows up to 10 people to make up one framily account. The first customer pays $55 a month for the first line of service, and for each additional customer that joins the framily plan, the cost per person goes down $5 a month up to a maximum monthly discount of $30 a month.

Sources: T-Mobile [1], [2]

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